Tips for Left-Handed Writers

Many years ago when I started at The Pen Shop I made the fatal error of telling our Corporate Manager I couldn’t write with a fountain pen because I was left-handed. I tried to explain that when I used one I just smudged ink everywhere and made a mess. My excuses were futile as with over 20 years’ experience coaching people at The Pen Shop she told me quite simply that if I was smudging I wasn’t writing properly.

At our next lunch break I was then taught how to write correctly with a standard medium nib fountain pen – it took some practice but I’m proud to say I finally got there. Since then I have amassed quite a collection of pens and ink bottles and now enjoy writing daily with my beloved fountain pens – without making a mess!

Tips from The Pen Shop for left-handed writers

  • Place your paper to the left of your body so you can see what you are writing.
  • Tilt the paper so that your arm is at a right-angle to the bottom edge of the paper.
  • Write with your hand below the writing line and with your wrist straight.
  • Use your right hand if needed to steady your paper so it is less likely to move or slide while writing.
  • Try to pull your pen across the paper rather than pushing it so you don’t scratch your nib or ballpoint.
  • The main thing is to hold your pen between the thumb, index and middle fingers. This may take a bit of practice and be uncomfortable at first but is well worth it in the end.
  • Some people are helped by writing on a sloping surface as they cannot then rest on the paper and smudge the ink.
  • A left-handed nib on a fountain pen can make a big difference for some left-handers.

Please call our sales team on +44 (0)191 4870033 to see which brands do left-handed nibs or pop into one of our stores to try writing with one.

If anyone has any further tips please share with us in the comments section.

My desk with a small selection of my favourite fountain pens and inks.


Written by Hannah Storey (proud leftie)



5 thoughts on “Tips for Left-Handed Writers

  • September 8, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    This is good advice, and something that all lefties should be told! As a leftie myself, I was lucky enough to be told this when I was at junior school (I’m 45 now), because I told the teacher I wanted to write with a cartridge pen. She explained that, because of the way I held my pen, the ink would smudge, so I needed to change my style – note, I wasn’t told I couldn’t, but was told how I could! I practised and practised, and had to show her how I was improving, until a few short months later, I proudly wrote my first essay with my ink pen! Since then, I’ve gone from strength to strength, using Waterman, Parker, Cross and have just purchased a beautiful Visconti. Enjoy your new fountain pen skills 🙂

  • October 1, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    This is good advice which should also be given to all children who are left handed when using any kind of writing implement. I am in my late sixties and have always held pens/pencils in that way. In those days teachers and many parents tried to force children to use their right hands, fortunately my mother stepped in and refused to allow this to happen. Working in schools for over twentyfive years I despaired of the way left handed children and some left handed teachers held their pens, but could do nothing as I was in admin! If you are left handed it is best not to let a right handed person use your fountain pen whether it is a conventional nib or one for lefties. Being left handed should never stop anyone from doing anything and to use it as an excuse is lazy.

  • October 1, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    As a leftie I wish that someone had taught me how to write with a proper fountain pen. I enjoy writing and have had to “make do” with a lovely roller ball but would love to be able to change that for a fountain pen.
    Maybe one day I will learn. You are never too old I guess.

  • October 12, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    This is great advice I work in a primary school and we encourage the children to hold their pen exactly as you said. We start with no pencil in hand and pretend to be holding an orange with our fingers, hand held outright, then we close the fingers as though holding a marble. Then put the pen nib end in first between the fingers and thumb, as you grip the pen flip it over so it rests between the thumb and forefinger. You should then have the perfect pen hold. Practise makes perfect. We also explain how sitting correctly helps. Have to say it really works. the writing has improved dramatically.

  • May 13, 2015 at 12:38 am

    Thank you. Without exaggeration, this advice has changed my life!

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